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How to Research a Trucker School
Once you have decided which Commercial Drivers License you would like to obtain, you can start the process of evaluating the Gilbert AZ trucking schools that you are considering. As already discussed, location and cost will undoubtedly be your initial concerns. But it can't be stressed enough that they must not be your sole considerations. Other variables, for example the experience of the instructors or the reputations of the schools are equally or even more important. So following are several more points that you should research while performing your due diligence prior to enrolling in, and especially paying for, your truck driver training.
Are the Schools Certified or Accredited ? Not many trucking schools in the Gilbert AZ area are accredited due to the rigorous process and cost to the schools. On the other hand, certification is more prevalent and is offered by the Professional Truck Driver Institute (PTDI). A school is not required to become certified, but there are certain advantages. Potential students recognize that the training will be of the highest caliber, and that they will receive lots of driving time. As an example, PTDI mandates 44 hours of real driving time, not simulations or ride-alongs. So if a school's program is certified (the program, not the school is certified), students know that the training and curriculum will fulfill the very high benchmarks set by PTDI.
How Long in Operation? One indicator to help evaluate the quality of a trucking school is how long it has been in operation. A poorly rated or a fly by night school usually will not be in business very long, so longevity is a plus. On the other hand, even the top Gilbert AZ schools had to start from their first day of training, so consider it as one of multiple qualifiers. You can also find out what the school's history is relating to successful licensing and job placement of its graduates. If a school won't provide those numbers, look elsewhere. The schools should additionally have associations with regional and national trucking companies. Having numerous contacts not only points to an excellent reputation within the trade, but also bolsters their job assistance program for students. It also wouldn't be a bad idea to check with the Arizona licensing department to verify that the CDL trucker schools you are reviewing are in compliance.
How Effective is the Training? At a minimum, the schools must be licensed in Arizona and hire instructors that are experienced and trained. We will talk more about the instructors in the next section. Also, the student to instructor ratio should be no higher than 4 to 1. If it's any greater, then students will not be receiving the individual instruction they will need. This is particularly true regarding the one-on-one instruction for behind the wheel training. And watch out for any school that professes it can train you to be a truck driver in a comparatively short time period. Learning to be an operator and to drive a tractor trailer professionally takes time. The majority of Gilbert AZ schools provide training courses that run from three weeks to as long as 2 months, depending on the license class or kind of vehicle.
How Experienced are the Trainers? As already stated, it's important that the instructors are qualified to teach driving techniques and experienced as both drivers and instructors. Although several states have minimum driving time prerequisites to be certified as a teacher, the more successful driving experience an instructor has the better. It's also vital that the teachers keep current with industry developments or any new regulations or changes in existing laws. Evaluating teachers might be a little more subjective than other criteria, and perhaps the ideal method is to check out the school and talk to the teachers in person. You can also speak with a few of the students going through the training and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of instruction and the teacher's ability to train them.
Plenty of Driving Time? Above all else, a great trucking school will furnish plenty of driving time to its students. After all, isn't that what it's all about? Driving time is the actual time spent behind the wheel operating a truck. Although the use of simulators and ride-a-longs with other students are necessary training methods, they are no alternative for actual driving. The more training that a student gets behind the wheel, the better driver she or he will become. And even though driving time varies between schools, a reasonable benchmark is a minimum of 32 hours. If the school is PTDI certified, it will provide at least 44 hours of driving time. Get in touch with the Gilbert AZ schools you are looking at and find out how much driving time they furnish.
Are they Independent or Captive ? It's possible to obtain free or discounted training from a number of truck driving schools if you enter into an agreement to be a driver for a specified carrier for a defined time period. This is what's known as contract training, and the schools that offer it are called captives. So rather than maintaining associations with numerous trucking lines that they can refer their students to, captives only refer to one company. The benefit is receiving free or less expensive training by giving up the freedom to initially work wherever you choose. Obviously contract training has the potential to restrict your income prospects when beginning your new career. But for many it may be the only way to receive affordable training. Just be sure to find out if the Gilbert AZ schools you are looking at are captive or independent so that you can make an informed decision.
Is there CDL Testing Onsite? There are several states that will allow 3rd party CDL testing onsite of truck driver schools for its students. If onsite testing is permitted in Arizona, find out if the schools you are considering are DMV certified to offer it. One benefit is that it is more convenient than contending with graduates of competing schools for test times at Arizona testing locations. It is moreover an indication that the DMV believes the approved schools to be of a higher quality.
Are the Classes Convenient? As earlier noted, truck driving training is just 1 to 2 months long. With such a brief duration, it's imperative that the Gilbert AZ school you select offers flexibility for both the curriculum and the scheduling of classes. For example, if you're having a hard time learning a particular driving maneuver, then the teacher should be prepared to devote more time with you until you have it mastered. And if you're still employed while attending training, then the class scheduling must be flexible enough to fit in working hours or other responsibilities.
Is Job Assistance Offered? As soon as you have acquired your commercial driver's license after graduating from truck driver school, you will be anxious to start your new career. Verify that the schools you are looking at have job placement programs. Ask what their job placement rate is and what average salary their graduates start at. Also, ask which national and local trucking companies their graduates are placed with for employment. If a school has a lower job placement rate or not many Gilbert AZ employers recruiting their grads, it may be a clue to search elsewhere.
Is Financial Aid Available? Truck driving schools are similar to colleges and other Gilbert AZ area trade or technical schools when it comes to loans and other forms of financial assistance being offered. Find out if the schools you are reviewing have a financial assistance department, or at least someone who can help you get through the options and forms that must be submitted.